It’s no secret that from time to time life can be something of an a-hole, and provide unique challenges and issues that simply can’t be avoided. That was the case this particular week in August. As a result, when I rolled out of bed, I was feeling pretty beat up. Not the best way to start the day
I spent the morning kinda lounging around. I slept late, played a little Tetris, and had no plan for the afternoon. Beth was leaving to go camping with her friends, and the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the house and stew. So I started packing. To date, I hadn’t really done a good long ride, and I had the feeling it was the very thing I needed to break through the funk. I grabbed my 5.11 Rush 12 pack, a couple layers of clothes, some extra gloves, tool kit, and I think, the worlds last remaining 120g iPod classic, and rolled out the driveway. It was 3pm. I had no plan, no direction, and no schedule.
I started north because, why not? I figured I’d take 93 north for a little while and maybe ride up to the mountains. After I got through the second toll, the not so crowded freeway almost instantly became a parking lot. Oh that’s right, it’s Friday in the summer. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, from Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire was heading north for a weekend of fun at pretty much the exact same moment. It quickly became apparent that this plan wasn’t going to work. Trapped in the right lane I knew the next big exit was for 89 north, so I bided my time until I could finally ease out of the ever maddening traffic and onto the the exit ramp. Since I couldn’t go any farther north I decided maybe I’d try going east. I got off at exit 2 and made my way towards Concord. I knew that if I made it through there I could pick up Route 9 and take it east into Portsmouth. Beth had been there a month or so ago and had fun, and since I hadn’t been in over twenty years, it seemed like a good choice.
Route 9 eventually became Rte 4 which did in fact take me all the way into Portsmouth. This stretch of road wasn’t terribly interesting but did afford some nice views as it passed a number of small lakes. I followed signs for downtown and made my way into the heart of Portsmouth. Small shops, cafes and restaurants line the narrow streets which, at 5pm, were bustling with people. I made a couple passes of the downtown area until I settled on a decent spot to park. I backed in, dropped the kickstand and swung my leg over the bike
Downtown Portsmouth has the feeling you’d expect from a old seaside New England town.
I had been riding for over two hours and was ready to find a bite to eat. Walking around a bit I settled on, what I found out later, is a pretty popular cafe. I ordered a small flatbread pizza and sat outside watching passers by, while enjoying the afternoon sun. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I didn’t want to rush either. So after lingering for a little while, I packed up my gear and walked back to the Bonne.
A late lunch and people watching.
Once I got my kit strapped down I took a look at the map. From downtown Portsmouth I could ride over to Rte 1A and follow that south all the way down into Massachusetts. The road runs along the New Hampshire Seacoast through Hampton Beach, then Seabrook, and eventually into Salisbury Beach, Newburyport, and points south. I’ve never seen this stretch of road before and the map looked promising.
Rand Macnally did not disappoint. Just a few miles outside the city, the road joins up with the coastline, and the views were nothing short of spectacular. Each turn provided a endless view of the Atlantic and the coastline ahead. I have ridden through some of the coastal towns in on the North Shore before, which has some nice ocean views, but pale in comparison to the uninterrupted vista I had before me. The road itself was in great shape and afforded some pretty incredible corners. My only complaint here was that it was pretty busy and the traffic ahead of me slowed to near stops at each hairpin. However, it’s a small complaint, and the slower traffic allowed me to take in the view and breathe deep of the sea air.
Route 1A Southbound
Sunset turned to twilight as I made my way down the coast. As the busy streets of Hampton Beach soon gave way to Seabrook, and then Salisbury Beach, the road turned west for a bit and then resumed its southerly track down towards Newburyport. Initially taking a wrong turn when I entered the city, it looked like I was going to miss the downtown area altogether, but after a series of u turns, I managed to find the city center. With the light fading fast, I got off just long enough to take a couple pictures and check my map.
The sun setting on Newburyport and miles to go.
I was committed to taking 1A as far as I could before surrendering to the hour long ride on the freeway to get back home. I found the way out of town, and the city streets soon melted away and transformed into rolling farm land that had a palpable air of tranquility in the last remaining light of the day. I rode by so many perfect pictures, but by the time I passed, I knew that the moment I saw was gone and turning around wouldn’t have been the same. The parks and farmland intermingled with small town centers, and with the temperature dropping, I thought it might be a good time to pull over, get something to drink and layer up for the ride home.
It was completely dark when I set out for the last leg of this impromptu journey. Reminding myself to only ride as fast as I could see, I slowed my pace until finally linking up with 128 South for the long ride home. One hour and nine minutes later, I rolled back into my garage and was met by a very patient dog, who seriously needed to be let out.
Ive said it before: Good for the soul. Whatever was bothering me this morning faded away with the sweeping corners, ocean views and rumble of an air cooled 865cc engine. I dare you to find a better way to clear the head and heal the soul.
I double dog dare you.